The luggage and rowing gear that Belen Jesuit Prep School hauled back home late Sunday weighed more than what the team brought to Sarasota earlier in the week.
That’s because all those medals Belen Jesuit earned earlier in the day at the USRowing Youth National Championship at Nathan Benderson Park proved to be quite substantial.
The men’s lightweight 8+ boat with Ben Gilbert, Joseph Menendez, Manuel Sanchez, Christian Burke, Daniel Brennan, Conor Meagher, Jose Armengol, Nicolas Fernandez and coxswain Fernando Pinera led the way by snatching silver medals for a second-place finish, three seconds behind the national champions from Norcal Crew of Redwood City, California.
Belen Jesuit won medals in all four finals the team qualified for at the three-day event, which featured about 1,700 rowers from 163 teams from across the country competing in 18 events.
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It was also a succesful day for the Miami Rowing Club, which rowed to its first national medal in 20 years when Elizabeth Ray, Isabel De Vengoechea, Kamila Vasquez, Alexandra Duffy and coxswain Natasha Murcia rowed themselves to the brink of exhaustion to finish third in the women’s lightweight fours under a scorching afternoon sun.
“We’re very happy with our progress,” said Rafael Montalvo, director of youth rowing for the Miami Rowing Club. “We have many young rowers that will be returning. We’re definitely headed in the right direction.”
Piloting a singles scull, Hector Formoso-Murias got Belen Jesuit off to a solid start by finishing third in his morning final. Formoso-Murias, who will continue his rowing career this fall at Georgetown University, toured the 1500-meter course in 7:27.926. Andrew Morley of the Seattle Rowing Center won the event in 7:20.536.
“You spend a lot of hours out on the water alone practicing your craft,” Formoso-Murias said of competing in a singles scull. “It takes a totally different mindset to be on your own versus an eight or a four or a double.
“Having someone out there with you makes it a whole lot easier. You have someone to talk you through it. That helps mentally.You learn to do that for yourself out there when you row singles.”
Twin brothers Alexander and Nicholas Keenan, who will both row for the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, captured third for Belen Jesuit in the Mens Pairs in a photo finish for second place.
Community Rowing, Inc., of Brighton, Mass., won the event in 7:02.836, followed by Commencement Bay Rowing of Tacoma, Wash., in 7:04.114 and Belen Jesuit in 7:04.134.
Belen Jesuit also got bronze medals from Alejandro Seda, Jonathan Mendez, David Gonzalez, Joseph Perez and coxswain Santiago Ugas in the Mens Lightweight Fours.